ICT has a big role to play in driving innovation and enhancing efficiency of SMEs. Most SMEs operate in an extremely competitive business environment, and hence it is imperative that they optimise business practices. This effort has to be significantly supported by ICT.
However, SME’s face a number of challenges; mainly insufficient financial resources, insufficient knowledge, lack of experience with ICT or sound advice, and also do not have in-house technology manpower. Set-up costs, pricing issues and security concerns are the other most visible barriers to ICT adoption amongst SMEs.
ICT can enable SMEs not only create business opportunities but also combat cost pressures to be competitive enough in the global marketplace. Appropriate ICT can help SMEs cut costs by improving their internal processes, improving their product through faster communication with their customers, and better promotion and distribution of their products through online presence.
For SMEs wanting to build in house technology capability, the entire process can be quite expensive and time consuming. This is where cloud based solutions come in. Cloud solutions is a cost-effective and viable alternative compared to in-house IT infrastructure.
Be it financial management, people management or integrating internal & external communication channels with stakeholders, or building necessary touch points with the end consumer; cloud technology solutions is available which SMEs can avail of to build competitiveness and drive business efficiency.
Our MSME ministry has a plethora of schemes to enable and empower the SME sector. I have always felt that it is imperative that government come up with attractive schemes to promote the adoption of ICT amongst MSMEs.
It’s really encouraging to see that in a recent development, the government has proposed subsidy up to Rs. 1 lakh for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to encourage them to use cloud computing for information and communications technology applications. The subsidy will be provided on user charges for 2 years. The proposals are part of the modified guidelines of the scheme for ‘Promotion of Information and Communication Technology in MSME Sector’.
This is indeed a welcome step and should be implemented aggressively.
MSME ministry in the draft guidelines of the proposed scheme said, “The benefits that accrued through implementing information and communications technology (ICT) for subsidy period in their enterprises will motivate MSMEs to continue to use the ICT application with their own expenses after this period”.
The subsidy disbursed will be through the direct benefit transfer route. The MSMEs initially will make a full payment to the service provider. The office of the development commissioner MSME will disburse funds to Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd (TCIL), which in turn will transfer it to the account of MSMEs.
The total budget outlay in the scheme for this activity is Rs.69 crore with the Centre’s contribution of Rs. 41.40 crore for 2 years.
This is good government intervention and to ensure that it meets its objective and is successful, it is also imperative to inform and inspire SMEs about adoption of cloud based business solutions that can enable and empower them take the next big leap.